Dallas @ Detroit
The Lions were strangely cagey with their reporting of Matthew Stafford’s back injury in the lead up to last Sunday’s game in Chicago. The whole thing was a bit mysterious, but I think I know why Detroit handled it that way. They didn’t want news to get out and allow the Bears to scout their secret weapon: back-up QB Jeff Driskel. They wanted to unleash him upon Chicago without any warning, and their plan worked perfectly. Well, almost perfectly. The one wrench in the works was that Jeff Driskel was mediocre at best and the Lions lost. To make matters worse, now the secret is out, so he won’t be catching anybody by surprise. Imagine how much worse things will get when a team actually prepares to face Jeff Driskel.
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis
It looks like Jacoby Brissett will be healthy enough to play in this game. And the Colts will need him to, because if they’re forced to turn again to Brian Hoyer, ho (boy) yer in trouble. The Indy backup was abysmal in a home loss to the Dolphins last Sunday. Though, abysmal play is assumed whenever the words “home loss to the Dolphins” are used. As a result Indy’s season is on the verge of derailing. Meanwhile, the Jaguars are finally getting their starting quarterback ... back, with Nick Foles playing for the first time since Week 1. A lot has occurred in the meantime. Summer gave way to Autumn, we all celebrated Halloween, daylight saving time ended. None of this has anything to do with the Jaguars, but I’m just pointing out it’s been a long time since he’s seen game action. 70 whole days. You could’ve gone to rehab twice in that time. I’m not saying you need to, but the point is you could have. No, I don’t think you have a problem! I mean sure, you could stand to cut back a bit, but who among us heroin users couldn’t? A healthy Brissett and a rusty Foles seems like a winning combo for the home team.
Buffalo @ Miami
Last week I said that the Dolphins should have cut Ryan Fitzpatrick at halftime of their previous game to avoid tarnishing their winless season. Now after a second straight win, I say cut Fitzpatrick ... loose. Let it fly baby! Forget tanking, go out there and win ‘em all! The AFC is down this year, 9-7 could get you into the playoffs. Miami is 2-7 right now, so if they stretch this two game winning streak into nine they’re right in the mix! It’s not over yet, you can do this Dolphins! Go get ‘em guys! Ok, are they gone? Now that it’s just us we can be real, these guys are dumb as hell. Miami is frittering away their draft position just for a few cheap Fitzpatrick thrills. They’re not even good at losing anymore, and that’s the mark of a truly inept franchise.
Denver @ Minnesota
A home match-up with the Broncos sandwiched between road games at Dallas and Seattle seems like a perfectly laid trap game for the Vikings. Except, wait a minute, Minnesota has a bye week after this one, so there’s no way they could overlook Denver and lay a big ol’ home stinker, right? Of course not! The Vikings are undefeated at home, the Broncos don’t have a chance! You’re probably waiting for me to pull the rug out here and tell you why I think Denver actually has a shot, but no, that’s not what’s going on here. I legitimately think the Vikings will soundly win this game. Why don’t you trust me? I’m telling the truth! This one’s a done deal. Unless ... Tee hee, ain’t I a stinker? The Vikings may be asking the same question if they stumble Sunday.
New Orleans @ Tampa Bay
The Saints suffered the worst loss of the season last week at home against the Falcons. Not their worst loss of the season, they only have one other, so that wasn’t a high bar to clear. No, I mean the worst loss of any team this season. They scored 9 points against a team that was giving up an average of 31 and looked completely limp against their hated rival. It’s rare that you get do-overs in the NFL (actually it’s not that rare, offsetting penalties result in do-overs quite often, but let’s just ignore that for now), but the Saints find themselves up against another division rival who surrenders 31 points per game this Sunday. Will they correct their mistakes? Perhaps. But would that truly rectify what happened against Atlanta? I’m afraid not. That loss has created a divot in their souls that they’ll never be able to replace. Oh wait a minute, the Saints are playing the Falcons again on Thanksgiving. Another second chance! That’s unheard of (again, lay off about the offsetting penalty thing).
New York Jets @ Washington
On Wednesday the Jets CEO announced that coach head coach Adam Gase would be returning next season. Yippee! Yahoo! This is great news, it means we’ll still have the Jets to make fun of next season! Look, I’m not saying Adam Gase is the worst coach out there, but he’s certainly not good. And ever since he’s gotten to New York he’s seemed in over his head. His strange, bug-eyed head. That being said, the Jets are playing Washington this Sunday, so Gase will probably respond to his boss’s confidence with a rousing win over an organization that’s not interested in competing at the moment. Go get get ‘em (Jets) Head (Coach) (Adam) Gase!
Atlanta @ Carolina
The Falcons managed to get their second win of the season last week, you know that by now. But did you realize that that was also their first division game? All six of their tilts against the NFC South were scheduled in the second half of the season. It’s a bizarre scheduling quirk, but I think it may explain Atlanta’s terrible start. Most NFL teams focus first and foremost on winning their division. That’s the baseline goal at the beginning of the season. If and when that’s achieved you can focus on bigger and better things. Well it’s clear that the Falcons were no different. All they wanted to do was win their division. Sure they lost seven of their first eight, but those games didn’t matter, they were merely filler until those pivotal NFC South contests came around. Unfortunately, their nonchalance got them into such a hole that they won’t be able to climb out of it. But hey, if they go 6-0 in division they’d win the South based on NCAA rules! This isn’t the NCAA, so that’s also a problem, but college football is big in Georgia, so they may be able to sell that to their fanbase.
Houston @ Baltimore
Ohh baby, get your popcorn ready! I think I can legitimately say I’ve never eaten popcorn during an NFL game, and I’d really like to have some, so please, get your popcorn ready. I assume you’re willing to share. But at the same time, I don’t want your popcorn preparation to distract you from this game, because it should be a good one. I often talk about triple Ps: potential playoff previews, and we’ve got one on our hands here. And if you bring your own triple P: perfectly popped popcorn, to watch this triple P we should have ourselves quite the P party. No, not pee party. Yuck, I’m not sure I want you readying my popcorn anymore. The Ravens have looked unbeatable lately while the Texans seem capable of winning or losing any game on their schedule depending on the week. Until the Ravens give me a reason to doubt them I’d be foolish to pick against them, right? Oh what do you know? From what I can tell you eat urine-soaked snacks. I've changed my mind, Houston gets the upset.
Arizona @ San Francisco
These teams met a mere two weeks ago, so to say they’re familiar with each other would be an understatement. To say they have a deep friendship that could someday blossom into love if they’d both just stop being so pigheaded and realize that everything they’ve been looking for is right in front of their faces, well that would be an overstatement. They’re not that familiar. But we can look to their first match-up to get clues about what may occur this Sunday. The Cardinals were able to move the ball surprisingly well at times, and came closer to getting the win than most people would have expected. Now does that mean they’re ready to get over the hump this time, or that the Niners will have learned from their mistakes and be eager to prove that they’re the far superior team? I’m not sure. So I guess when I said that we could learn from that first game I was lying.
Cincinnati @ Oakland
The Raiders are off and running, possibly towards postseason. If they’re in the middle of the race then the Bengals are the equivalent of the bystanders handing out Gatorade and cheering the runners on as they pass by. That’s basically the dynamic of every Cincinnati game at this point; they happily watch as another team speeds right by them. Then the Bengals go home and tell their families about all the cool, strong, fast athletes they saw that day. Their families aren’t impressed, and tell the Bengals to get them some Gatorade because that’s all their good at it. It’s a sobering moment for the Bengals, but they do it, because they know that one day someone will be getting them Gatorade. Then their kid gets pissed because they wanted Arctic Blitz not Cool Blue! There is truly no winning for the Bengals right now.
New England @ Philadelphia
After giving up 38 and 37 points in weeks 6 and 7, respectively, the Eagles’ defense has rebounded, surrendering a combined 27 points in consecutive wins. Sure, it helps that those games were against the Bills and Bears, but that still counts as an improvement. I’m personally hoping that Philly’s D reverts in time for Sunday's contest so that we can see another shootout like we did in Super Bowl LII. Of course, since Super Bowl LII I’ve hoped that most games end up like Super Bowl LII, but that’s more relevant than ever in regards to this match-up, because these teams actually played in Super Bowl LII! Remember? And hey, both of them are coming off bye weeks again, just like before the Super Bowl, so maybe we will see a repeat performance. Any chance we can get the venue switched to Minnesota’s US Bank Stadium? I know the Vikings are playing there in the early window, but they should clear out in time for this one to start. I suppose that would create some other logistical problems, for instance, the Patriots probably already scheduled their flight to Philadelphia, and the fees to change those can be through the roof. Ya know what, I’m just going to watch a replay of Super Bowl LII when this game is on. Seems like the simplest solution. Boy, I guess I wasted all of our time there. That’s a first.
Chicago @ Los Angeles Rams
The Bears could be out of the playoff picture with a loss. The Rams wouldn't be in much better shape if they were to fall. So who screws themselves on Sunday? Let's ask Sunday Night Football's own Cris Collinsworth:
Kansas City vs. Los Angeles Chargers
In an effort to impress the NFL after last year’s field fiasco, the Estadio Azteca grounds crew has allowed their grass to grow lush and full. Probably too much so, as it’s now three feet high. This was a severe over correction. Sure it will be a fun change of pace to only be able to see the top halves of players, but all receptions will have to be made from the chest up, and I don’t even want to think about what kind of a mess determining fumble recoveries will be. This is the last thing the speedy Chiefs need after stumbling to a 2-4 record over the past six weeks. Not to mention that they have to play in front of a crowd that will undoubtedly have a higher percentage of Chargers fans than if this game were being played in Carson. In other words, KC is really in the weeds now. Well the weeds and the grass. That being said, the Chargers will surely find a way to lose and give their south of the border fans a true Charger experience.